“(Barack) Obama’s ambition could bring all of black America down. If the Democrats lose control of Congress, we’re going to go back and struggle and struggle and struggle.”

Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) on his concerns about Obama as a general election candidate. Source: Los Angeles Times

2

That’s the number of public safety officers who were arrested this week, accused of committing crimes counter to their responsibilities. Sgt. William Ellis was arrested Jan. 24 for allegedly breaking into a Goose Creek Subway and attempting to get into the safe and cash register. On Jan. 25, Paul Joseph Sloan, a former Hanahan firefighter, was charged with setting a house on fire in August. Source: The Post and Courier

3

That’s the maximum number of stops for the new CARTA Express, expected to provide a faster, shorter, and more relaxing commute between North Charleston, James Island, Mt. Pleasant and downtown.

“We better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder.”

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) on President Bush’s plans to increase the number of troops in Iraq. Source: The Post and Courier

6.6%

That’s the unemployment rate in South Carolina, giving the Palmetto State the No. 4 spot in the national unemployment ranking. Source: The State

49%

That’s the percentage of women living with a spouse. That’s a significant decrease from the 66 percent of women in 1960. Source: New York Times


County address scam gets national attention

Days after the Charleston County School Board gave final approval to a new address verification system, ABC News spotlighted the county’s problems with fraudulent addresses on Buist Magnet School applications, including a segment on World News Tonight.

Downtown parents have advocated since last year for reforms to the address policy, noting that some parents were claiming they lived downtown to improve their child’s chances of getting into Buist, an excellent rated downtown magnet school with a limited number of slots each year for new students. There are 10 slots reserved for downtown students.

The new policy requires a signed affidavit attesting that the address a parent gives is their primary residence. Violators could be fined up to $200. Schools will be required to verify the addresses.

Council members Brian Moody and David Engelman opposed the measure. Moody said it would add unnecessary work for county staff and do little to prevent eager parents from getting their students into the best schools.

“The worst-kept secret is that folks will figure out a way to get into the school they want,” he said. —GH


City clamps down on peddlers, smokers

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Charleston City Council gave final approval last week to a cigarette-smoking ban in any workplace, effectively forcing bars and restaurants to snuff out smoking patrons when the new policy takes effect in late July. After a public hearing earlier this month that was filled with advocates for the smoke-free policy, bar owners and smokers came out in force prior to the final vote to claim their personal freedoms were being stomped on.

“What are we going to do, put smoking Nazis out there?” said City Councilwoman Deborah Morinelli, an opponent of the ban.

The new regulations were trimmed back slightly. Originally, the measure would have prevented smoking within 15 feet of a building, but that has been changed to a “reasonable distance” that should be far enough away so that smoke doesn’t travel in through windows or doors.

The final vote was 9-4, with Morinelli joined by councilmen James Lewis Jr., Robert Mitchell, and Larry Shirley against the ban. Opponents still question the city’s ability to fairly enforce the ordinance and whether the city has the legal right to impose such limitations on private businesses.

Also last week, the council gave initial approval to new regulations establishing permits for kids who sell palmetto roses, tree fronds shaped like flowers. The $7 permit is also paired with a $15 week-long business course. Mayor Joe Riley noted the first course was easily filled last week. The students will have to carry an ID badge provided by the city and will be limited to selling the roses on weekends and holidays. The changes to the city’s peddlers ordinance will also require a permit for beggars and limit those areas where they can beg for change. —Greg Hambrick